Australia will benefit from shift to zero emissions, with no gas required | RenewEconomy

Australia will benefit from shift to zero emissions, with no gas required

With wind and solar now the cheapest sources of energy, Australia would benefit from a switch to 100% renewables, with gas not needed as transition fuel.

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New analysis published by the Climate Action Tracker initiative has detailed how Australia could take action on climate change consistent with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, in a way that would leave it economically stronger, and with gas not needed as a transition fuel

In a new report titled Scaling up Climate Action, the Climate Action Tracker initiative found that Australia would be economically better off if governments adopted an ambitious switch to zero emissions energy sources, including an almost complete transition of the electricity system to renewable energy sources by 2030.

The report found that as many as 76,000 new jobs could be created over the next ten years within the renewable energy sector alone, through more ambitious emissions reduction policies.

“This report shows how Australia can get on a pathway to net zero emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5C, increasing employment and ratcheting up its 2030 target from the currently inadequate 26-28% to a 66% emissions reduction,” CEO and senior scientist at Climate Analytics Bill Hare said.

“We show how this is feasible. But it needs real climate policy across all sectors of the economy. An important first step to achieving this is a planned and managed phase out of coal from power generation by 2030.”

The report finds that Australia’s current emissions reduction targets are not consistent with the Paris Agreement’s aims of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees, and both a commitment to a zero net emissions target, and a stronger 2030 interim target  are a necessary, but achievable, to bring Australia into line with the Paris Agreement.

The analysis detailed an economically and technically feasible pathway for transitioning the electricity system to renewable energy sources, that would help Australia achieve the 66 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Crucially, the report finds that thanks to technological progress that taking action on climate change no longer represents a cost to the Australian economy, and that it would likely be the cost-effective and economically efficient option for development.

“We no longer live in a world where climate change mitigation is a burden per se, but one where it is increasingly the most feasible, cheapest option when considering all socio-economic aspects. For cost-efficient global mitigation, it will be essential to overcome remaining barriers in all countries including Australia,” the report says.

Climate Action Tracker found that a transition of the Australian energy system would help cut emissions across multiple economic sectors beyond the electricity system, including reducing emissions in transport, buildings, and waste sectors, as well as a reduction in emissions from gas processing.

Growth in green energy export industries, including the growth of a hydrogen export sector, provide significant opportunities to grow the Australian economy under a low emissions scenario, and that Australia did not need to remain reliant on traditional fossil fuel industries to maintain a strong economy, nor would it require further development of relatively immature technologies like carbon capture and storage.

“We’ve found there is enormous potential – and indeed many benefits – for Australia to shift to a world-leading, net zero emissions regime, creating opportunity and future-proofing it against the inevitable shock of fossil fuel divestments,” senior policy adviser at Climate Analytics Australia, Dr Ursula Fuentes Hutfilter said.

“Unlike other reports, our modelled scenarios do not rely on extensive carbon storage through carbon sequestration in the land sector. We provide a more balanced approach that protects biodiversity and water resources to compensate for emissions from hard-to-abate sectors such as agriculture.”

“We also see no role for any additional gas in the electricity sector, not even as a transition fuel: we simply won’t need it,” Hutfilter added.

Gas has been touted as a ‘transition fuel’ by the Morrison government, as well as the right-aligned faction of the Labor Party, with agitators like Joel Fitzgibbon looking to amend the Labor policy platform to support the ongoing role of gas in the energy system.

But the Climate Action Tracker analysis suggests that the falling costs of battery storage, the potential of pumped hydro energy storage projects and demand management responses meant that firm capacity could be provided, as necessary to establish a reliable and cost-effective energy system, without a reliance on gas.

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